I think I should start posting here more oftern when I make stuff. So here is yesterdays Press Rush episode:
I read a lot of gaming stuff in mags you really should get and online. A lot of the time I want to reply or comment but with the internet being the internet, I have always seen this as bad idea. But as I am slowly but surely setting myself up as decent gaming press monkey in the professional amateur sector I started to think that I should reply with a comment. But as my responses are actually thought out and not in ALL CAPS I thought that I should put them here. “But Wil,” I hear you cry, “you write to thetorchentertainmentguide.com. Why don’t you put it there?” Well, dear reader, it is for two reasons. The first is that of response time. Here I can reply quickly while over on the Torch the response is more sluggish with all those professional standards ‘n’ all. The second is a giving the Torch a get out. This is my blog. My own little piece of the internet. Here I can fucking swear my tits off and be as opinionated as I like. And this blog isn’t monetized so I don’t have to worry about pissing people off and not getting a pay check because I don’t get one, (I get one from the Torch hence the professional standards when I write for them to be clear). So, lets us get on with this thing.
Most of the article if you haven’t read it (although you should) talks about the making of the game while touching on the ‘controversy’ around its design and release. It opens with them talking about the announcement trailer that was showed off at the Tokyo Game Show in 2010. An entirely pre-rendered trailer only showing the new look for Dante. They lead in to a quote from Tameem Antoniades, Ninja Theory’s creative chief were he says (when talking about the public response to the new look);
“The vitriol was immediate, aggressive and relentless for the next to years. Without a second of gameplay being shown, it had been written off as disaster in the making.“
I remember seeing the trailer at the time. I am a fan of the Devil May Cry series so seeing that a new one was in the works just had me excited. Then seeing the new design I just watched slack-jawed and amazed. I just sat watching and going “That looks fucking sweet! I wan’ it and I wan’ it now!” And then I turned to the comments and mentally wept. A game with a design like it came from my own head and in a world that I see all the time was being decried with pitchforks and with a sheer new level of hate that I had not seen from just a pre-rendered trailer. The only time I’ve seen a game reach that level of hate was after it came out. The likes of “Aliens: Colonial Marines” is the most recent example. Even I was saying that people should just be tentative rather than get to hating it now. But nope. The screaming was loud relentless.
The article then points out that the new look was something that Capcom wanted.
“But when they [Capcom] saw it [a minimally changed Dante design], they said they wanted us to put our own twist on it, to not think about the past, but to try something totally new. I remember they said, ‘Do something that we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise we might as well do it ourselves.’” (Alessandro Tani, visual art director.)
That was what I saw. When I reviewed it I said that the game felt very British, bringing in elements of current trends and politics. Having Mundus, the head demon, be a financial banker felt most British considering our current ‘Bash The Bankers’ philosophy. It felt modern and contemporary not just in its looks but in its story. Dante oozed the Brit-punk mentality (that I kinda grew up with) of just “fuck you” in a world taken from the headlines. Like I said, I saw that game world as the world that I largely saw day-to-day. Not in the literal, demons are real sense. But in the larger disenfranchised late teen/20-something with two fingers up at the standing system because you all suck sort of sense. Like I said, I kinda grew into the punk mentality while I was ‘goth’. Was even a point were I ‘practiced’ (more like tried and messed myself up a few times) free running, dyed my hear black and smoked so fuck it, I ‘was’ Dante at one point. Now I’m just a disenfranchised 20-something with two fingers up at the standing system but more classy being in the system and I don’t dye my hair or smoke. So more Kat except with smaller boobs on account of me being ‘husky’.
I could always understand people not liking the new look (rather than the anger they displayed for it) but one thing I never understood, and still don’t is the anger that was displayed for the combat system. Yes it was simplified, I even said so in my review. But it was far from being super easy or, as I heard some people call it, broken.
“Simple, slight changes like this were exactly what Capcom desired: a way to make the game more accessible without compromising the intricacy of the systems at Devil May Cry’s core A simplified launcher input was surely not going to upset the hardcore too much.”
While it was not a vocal as the hair-brigade, there was some outcry about the combat. Like I said, I never understood it. The article even points out that Capcom themselves concentrated on this aspect and most of it was largely unchanged. Earlier on in the article they even point out that “…many of Dante’s signature moves were brought over unchanged.” ‘But it’s easer to get S rankings for combos,’ some will yell and I respond with ‘So?’ I could never get S combo ranks before but in this game I now could and it was fucking sweet! If it so much of a big deal, play on a harder difficulty. After the regular Human, Devil Hunter and Nephilim modes there’s Son of Sparta mode, Dante Must Die mode, Heaven or Hell Mode and Hell and Hell mode. If you’re complaining about the combat or the difficulty, it’s you. Not the game.
So where do we come to at the end of all of this? Well, as the last records of sales said it sold 1.6 million (less that the 2 million Capcom wanted to sell) the companionship of the studios was ended and the likelihood that a sequel will come fades away as Capcom says they are going back to doing it themselves. “DmC: Devil May Cry” becomes yet another game that arrived with critical acclaim and well received scores from critics but no one bought it. It’s even getting to a point were former angry people are retrospectively starting to praise the game even though the chance that we will get something like again has passed because they themselves were the ones bitching. Well, as I think DmC Dante would think and maybe say in his punk tones;
People really fucking suck.
I’m not one to really talk about these issues usually, as controversial as they seem to be to the vocal. But in recent days and weeks I’ve found my self baying for a chance to speak my mind in this topic and (while I haven’t asked) I’m most sure that my work colleagues at the Torch EG wouldn’t want me to speak on the topic. My opinions are usually not the part of the majority but their usually not controversial either. Maybe at some point this might get a re-write and end up on the site. Anyway…
Frame-rate, Resolution and Me.
As most know by now, My history comes from photography and film-making. I’m trained in both to a quite high degree. If you want to be specific, I trained as a writer and a camera man but also as a landscape and urban photographer. All don’t involve talking to people and working with other humans so it suited my secluded self. But this also means that frame-rate and resolution are mainstays of mine. As photographer resolution was key. Taking and getting the highest fidelity image possible because photographs could be used in advertising that takes up the whole side of a building. And in film-making, the standard is 24 frame-per-second on film, digital, and editing programs. It is the most efficient. You can go higher like Peter Jackson and double it to 48 frames-per-second but then it becomes expensive to produce, like shooting a film in 3D with 3D cameras. Films are already extremely costly (when it comes to Hollywood style productions) so adding to the cost to get some more frames is something most don’t really think about. Maybe in the future but now it is extremely rare. But on top if this, films are shot with the same “highest fidelity image possible” idea as photography forcing the idea that frame-rate might as well stay at 24 because it means the fidelity can get better, like IMAX showings.
In the case of video games, frame-rate is important. A higher frame-rate when playing a game means that there is less delay between you pressing a button and the action happening on-screen. But the same case can’t be made to resolution. There is the “highest fidelity image possible” idea but a lot of games are set in a graphically stylized world of fiction it doesn’t matter. Although, for games like “Call of Duty” and games set in the ‘real world’ (that being this world with humans but still as fiction) it sort of does. But does it?
Resolution is a thing that is nice for a game to have but the impact is has on the game is minimal. Graphics don’t make a game, the game makes the game. Look at the past eras of gaming. Back in the DOS years, there was no frame-rate or resolution debate. But as the games moved into 3D and 3rd/1st person the debate started. Slowly, more and more, the debate rose up to become the leading debated point between platforms. This came to a head when consoles like the Dreamcast said that they were the best graphical machine. (This ended up being their downfall ultimately because the PS2 and the GameCube shipped a year later with newer hardware.) But like I said, high frame-rates for games are good because there is less delay for the player making a more enjoyable experience. This just means that frame-rate (on the whole and generally speaking) is more important than graphical fidelity and resolution.
But why then the debate? Well as High Definition [HD] became a thing for film/television/photography it became a thing with games. High polygon models and high particle effects where already a thing because that is the of natural progression of game graphics, the same way that better ISO counts and higher film grains was the natural progression of films tapes for photography/film/television. It creates a better image, not necessarily a bigger image but better and more clear image. HD creates a better image but is that what gaming needed? It all depends on the audience. Time for some films theory.
There are widely seen in film theory as two types of audience, ‘passive’ and ‘active’. Passive audiences are mentally disconnected while active audiences are mentally engaged. Traditionally, film, television and photography has a passive audience because the audience is just sitting in a room watching, having no control over what they are watching in any way. This is the reason why film making throughout history have dappled with ways to make audiences more engaged with the film they are watching. This varied from things like “smell-o-vision“, 4D showings that are used in theme park rides, all the way up to the most recent return of 3D. Games on the other hand are active audience because that are interacting with the world they are watching through the player character. This means that the mental cognition of the audience is different, meaning that the finer details are not noticed because the audience it mentally doing something else. This is different to the passive film audience because will notice finer details because their only mental cognition is to watch the film. Things that the player will notice is things like a delay between pressing a button on a controller to the action happening on-screen. This again means that fidelity and resolution are secondary to the faster reaction time that higher frame rates bring.
But what happens when they combine? YouTube recently activated their 60 frame-per-second video player because gaming is big business on the site. Many already have taken advantage and uploaded many 60 frame-per-second videos. But does it matter? While playing a game at 60 frames-per-second is good for the person recording, it (on the whole) is not necessary because the audience that watches 60 frame-per-second videos is a passive audience. Considering that 60 frame-per-second player is only available to videos that are 720p HD or higher, it forces another boundary to people who want to come into the YouTube gaming space and those who are already in it. While recording software for PC’s is relatively cheap, same can’t be said for console recorders, (recorders that aren’t controlled and limited by the console maker) PCs and editing equipment that is capable to play, record and edit 60 frame-per-second videos. Total costs can easily rise into the several hundred or even over thousand. While it may be nice to watch videos at 60 frames, it on the whole doesn’t, and shouldn’t, matter.
So to clearly state my place;
- Frame rate matters when playing a game,
- But doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) when watching it.
- Resolution should be considered secondary for game,
- But frame-per-second should be primary.
But as a final thought, both frame-rate and resolution should be considered secondary to getting good games. I don’t want graphics and frame-rates to take over to the point where that is all that matters so all that gets released is graphical tech demos that are mediocre games.
You may have noticed for previous posts, and the fact that my editorial is called “Retro Monday“, I like old games. So the story about Atari putting thousands of unsold 2600 cartridges of “E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” in a New Mexico landfill.
In a past post, I talked about the plans to have an excavation in the now disused landfill where the cartridges are meant to have been buried had been approved by the appropriate local authority’s and was going ahead. The dig was also being film for a documentary.
Now the story can now move from the ‘urban legend’ section and into sold truth. Today, via the Twitter of Major Nelson, (AKA Larry Hryb, AKA Microsoft, one of the backers of the documentary so a sponsor of the dig,) showed the long lost cartridges. Some are in fairly sold condition too.
The ‘E.T.’ is often seen as the worst game of all time and is often attributed to the 1983 video game market crash. Most of the cartridges where returned and ended up in the hole. The game is now a collectable because of whole shityness so the landfill may be holding a fair amount of money. So, I predict there may be a few of the cartridges appearing as auction pieces in a time not long from now. It makes send. Film makers want to make money, right?
Either way, this should bring the history of one of the most remembered games in history to a close. Although, I have to say that I would never of expected to see “E.T. Found In Landfill” as a actual headline used by actual journalists.
With this weeks “Retro Monday” that’s now out for the internet to read, I feel like doing a follow up.
To those who haven’t read it, and you should because I like watching the view counter, today’s “Retro Monday” was about the EyeToy, the Kinect for the PlayStation 2 from the early 2000’s. I have an easy dig at visual interfacing with games but even I feel like I missed a trick. Or actually, a console.
The Wii came out based on player interfacing. The main controller was/is a stick you make wanking motions with to move stuff or use the same stick and point at the your TV and attempt at furiously change channels. Or you could be a true idiot and just fling it at the screen, breaking the controller and your TV. Anyway, the Wii was a breath of fresh air. Microsoft and Sony had streamlined the box-with-string style of consoles and controllers so having something else was nice. The consumer market must have liked it because the Wii, over time, was a smash hit. It became so popular that Sony made the PlayStation Move, a Sony Wii-mote, when they launched the PlayStation Eye (The EyeToy 2) for the PlayStation 3. Because the Move was such a commercial failure, Sony has moved back to copying the Kinect with their PlayStation Camera, a Sony Kinect, which itself is based on their original idea of the EyeToy.
Both Sony and Microsoft are now looking confusingly at their camera devices. At least Microsoft is. Sony always seen it as an extra but Microsoft doesn’t. With effectively a flat out refusal to un-bundle the Kinect from the Xbox One even though it still is only used to shout at your TV/console rather then play games designed for it, its looking less and less relevant.
Nintendo also now looks like it’s trying to combine its DS (the leader of the hand-held games market) with a seemingly more retro styled console rather then advance their motion controllers. The WiiU is failing so badly that they are planning a new console already codenamed Nintendo Fusion.
So, is this the end for motion controls and camera games? I hope not. I like my EyeToy. The wavy-stick games on the Wii like “No More Heroes” where really fun. I even dusted off my old CRT TV and Namco Gun-Controller2 and played some arcade “Time Crisis 3” recently and that was fun. Most of the games I would play at the arcades would be shooters like “House of the Dead” and the ilk.
I take shots at the Kinect, PS Move and the other motion controls not because I don’t like them. I think their brilliant. They just shouldn’t be mandatory. My sister got a DDR mat for the same reason I got my G-Con2, it was a fun extra.
The console companies, mainly Microsoft, need to see that the motion and camera controls are fun but they are extras. Not mandatory add-ons to show off new, and expensive, technology because it breaks one of the main tenants of consoles:
Thou Shalt be Affordable.